North Carolina Taxicab Accident Attorneys
Whether you're heading out for a night on the town, want an alternative to taking public transit or you simply don't have your own car, taxi cabs and ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft can offer a easy way to get you from point A to point B. Most of the time these rides are uneventful, but the reality is that accidents involving taxis and rideshare drivers are much more common than you might think.
If you've been in an accident involving a taxi, Uber driver or Lyft driver in North Carolina, call our team of taxicab and ridesharing accident attorneys here at Nagle & Associates. We represent victims of all types of roadway crashes, including taxi and rideshare passengers, pedestrians who have been hit by a cab, Uber or Lyft, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and passengers and drivers in other vehicles involved in crashes caused by Uber or Lyft drivers or taxi drivers.
How Common Are Rideshare and Taxi Crashes in North Carolina?
According to the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles, in 2017 North Carolina taxi cabs were involved in 148 reported crashes, with 46 of these accidents resulting in a serious injury and one fatality. That's about one accident every three days, and these are only crashes that have been reported to the DOT.
While the NCDOT doesn't currently keep statistics on car crashes involving Uber, Lyft and other rideshare drivers, accidents involving these taxi alternatives can and do happen on a regular basis. After all, Uber offers service throughout the state and Lyft operates in nearly two dozen cities and counties including Asheville, Chapel Hill, Greensboro and Winston-Salem, and rideshare drivers are no more skilled or qualified to drive than any other driver on the road. In fact, some experts believe that rideshare drivers are more likely to be involved in a crash due to a number of factors including driver distraction and fatigue, inexperience and the highly competitive nature of the work.
Do Taxi Passengers Have Rights in North Carolina?
While some states like New York have regulations in place to ensure taxi passengers have the right to clean, safe cabs that are operated by drivers who do not use their cell phone while driving, here in North Carolina there isn't yet a "Taxi Rider Bill of Rights" in place.
Although NC lacks a Taxi Rider Bill of Rights, taxi drivers here are obligated to comply with a number of regulations and standards that are designed to improve the safety and comfort of taxi riders.
In North Carolina, taxis are regulated under Statues 160A-304, which places strict controls on who can operate a taxi cab as well as rules around taxi companies that are designed to protect passengers. Under NC law, the state has the right to deny a taxicab license to anyone who:
- Has been convicted of a felony (either in North Carolina or another jurisdiction)
- Is known to suffer from substance abuse disorder, alcohol use disorder, or a combination of addiction issues
- Has been arrested for an offense involving drugs and/or alcohol
- Has been arrested under North Carolina's anti-prostitution laws
- Is not a legal citizen of the United States
- Has multiple moving violations on their driving record
All taxi cabs in the state must maintain a valid permit that is available to any passenger who requests it. Taxi cab operators are also often subject to city and county laws, and both the taxi driver and their company must have a permit or license to operate in a particular area.
What's The Difference Between NC Taxis and NC Rideshare Companies?
While both rideshare services and taxi companies offer paid rides in passenger vehicles using a pricing model that combines both time and distance traveled, despite what you might think, the similarities between these two transportation options ends there.
Taxis are highly regulated under both state and local law, while Uber and Lyft are far less regulated. Taxi cabs are dedicated passenger vehicles that are solely used to provide taxi service, while rideshare services use privately-owned passenger vehicles.
The truth is, victims of collisions caused by Uber drivers or Lyft drivers have far a better chance of collecting fair compensation for their personal injury claims. Taxi cab operators are often “independent contractors”, and most taxi companies operate on a shoestring budget with old vehicles and no wealth or business assets. Further, North Carolina law recently changed to increase the level of insurance coverage required for taxi drivers. Unfortunately, the limit was raised only to $50,000.00 per injury victim. This is terribly insufficient in most serious injury cases.
Uber and Lyft have improved the financial situation for people who are seriously injured in crashes caused by Uber/Lyft drivers. Once a rideshare driver logs into the Uber or Lyft app allowing them to receive rideshare assignments, the driver is immediately afforded bodily injury liability coverage of $50,000.00 per victim and $100,000.00 per collision (to be shared by all victims of a single crash). This coverage applies while the driver is “in route” to pick up a fare. Once the Uber or Lyft driver has a paying customer in the vehicle, the liability insurance coverage limit increases to $1.5 million in personal injury liability coverage AND $1.5 million for Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage. Thus, even if the Uber/Lyft driver did not cause the accident, a passenger in the Uber or Lyft vehicle has high dollar coverage to fund their injury claims.
This high level of coverage is especially helpful in North Carolina because the standard auto insurance policy in NC contains an exclusion of liability coverage when the insured driver is carrying persons for a fee. Simply put, common car insurance does not apply to cover the victim of a crash caused by a rideshare driver. Fortunately, both Uber and Lyft have procured their own coverage which compensates victims of a crash caused by an Uber driver or a Lyft driver.
If you're the victim of an accident involving a taxi cab or an Uber of Lyft driver in North Carolina, our team of auto accident attorneys can help you understand your rights and fight to get you the compensation you deserve. The laws concerning auto accidents and the specific laws that govern taxi companies, Uber and Lyft are complex, and insurance companies already have dedicated lawyers who work hard to reduce payouts to victims like you - that's why you need to have an experienced, skilled North Carolina auto accident lawyer working for you and your family.
NC Rideshare Drivers Are Not Regulated Like Commercial Drivers
Unlike commercial drivers who are subject to regulations that limit how many hours they can drive in a day and the amount of rest time they need to take between shifts, Uber and Lyft drivers are free to pick up work on their rideshare platform as often as they like. This means your next Uber driver may have been on the go for hours on end without taking a rest break, and we all know the dangers of driving while fatigued.
Worse yet, because most rideshare drivers also work another job, go to school, or are juggling home and family commitments, when you ride with an Uber or Lyft driver you aren't being driven by someone who is a professional driver. Your driver could literally be your neighbor, someone from your college, or anyone else who is able to meet the minimum requirements of being a rideshare driver in North Carolina.
Uber drivers in North Carolina need to have a 4-door vehicle that's less than 10 years old and passes an annual safety inspection, while Lyft lets its drivers operate vehicles that are up to 16 years old in most areas of the state. Uber drivers also need to be at least 21 years old and have at least one year of driving experience - that's less experience than many teen drivers have when they graduate from high school.
What Are the Rules for Uber and Lyft Drivers in North Carolina?
In North Carolina rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft that use digital platforms like apps and websites to facilitate the sale of rides are classified as "Transportation Network Companies" under Article 10A of Chapter 20 of N.C. General Statutes, which regulates motor vehicles, rules of the road and drivers in the state. This law was prompted by a tragic case in California where a young child was struck and killed by a negligent, under-insured Uber driver, leading lawmakers around the country to introduce laws designed to protect innocent victims of crashes involving rideshare companies.
Under this law, Uber and Lyft drivers are classified as Transportation Network Company drivers. The law is very clear that rideshare drivers are seen as independent contractors rather than employees under the law, which means drivers are not covered by labor laws, workers' compensation or rules regarding minimum wage. It also places the responsibility squarely on the driver if something goes wrong, and keeps the actual rideshare company at an arms-length from any liability or claims related to rideshare accidents in North Carolina.
Do Rideshare Drivers in North Carolina Undergo Background Checks?
By law, all transportation network companies must complete a thorough background check on all applicants who want to sign up as drivers through their apps. This check has to include both local and nation-wide criminal record checks, and anyone who has been convicted of driving while impaired (DWI), a sex offense, fraud or assault in the last seven years is prohibited from driving for Uber or Lyft in North Carolina.
Did Distracted Driving Cause Your Ridesharing or Taxi Accident?
Rideshare drivers and cabbies rely on their smartphones to compete for work in highly competitive conditions, making it more than tempting for drivers-for-hire to take their eyes off the road and check their devices to search for their next fare.
As with nearly every other state, texting and driving in North Carolina is against the law because statistics prove just how dangerous distracted driving can be. And if supporters of HB 144, better known as "Hands Free NC" are successful, soon simply talking on a mobile device while driving will be banned as well.
As of 2017 nearly 20 percent of all crashes in North Carolina involved a driver who was distracted, however, experts believe that this number is actually much higher than what the statistics show. This is because driver distraction stats are based on self-reporting - a driver has to actually admit to the authorities that they were engaged in a non-driving activity such as using a smart phone, entering data into a GPS or eating when they crashed.
Who Pays When a Passenger is Hurt in a North Carolina Taxi Accident or Rideshare Crash?
While many rideshare accident victims think that they have the right to sue the actual rideshare company itself, that isn't always the case. Who can be held liable following an accident depends on a number of complex factors, and the laws around services like Uber and Lyft are still evolving. Case law around this issue is still evolving, and no two cases are exactly alike.
In most situations victims will need to seek compensation from the insurance company that covers the taxi service or the rideshare driver, however, the only way to know how the law applies to your specific situation is to consult with an experienced, knowledgeable auto accident attorney.
Here at Nagle and Associates we only represent auto accident victims, making us one of the most skilled and well-respected taxi and autoshare law firms in North Carolina. Our firm has successfully handled many cases against Uber, Lyft and taxi drivers. Also, Carl Nagle is a former insurance defense attorney and with first-hand experience working both for, and against big insurance companies, giving us the insider knowledge it takes to mount an effective and aggressive fight for victims of taxi and rideshare accidents. We also offer a reduced legal fee of 25% in settlement (most firms charge 33.33%) and 33% at trial (most firms charge 40-44%). We do this because we only handle serious injury cases arising from motor vehicle accidents, and we feel that a lower legal fee is fair and appropriate as it leaves more tax-free money for the victim and their family following settlement.
If you or someone you love have been involved in a crash with an Uber, Lyft or taxi, call us today to schedule your free, confidential consultation. We're here to help you get the compensation you deserve, and we only get paid if we win for you.